Governors ask for consultation on closure of Ings primary

The governing body of Ings Community Primary and Nursery School in Skipton has asked North Yorkshire County Council to consult on the future of the school which they believe is no longer sustainable.

County Hall in North Yorkshire

If a consultation goes ahead it will consider closure of the school by December 2017, but it will also consider options for maintaining education provision on the school site.

David Portlock, chair of governors at Ings community primary said in a letter to parents: "It is with great sadness that the governing body has taken this decision. Governors have tried everything to avoid the situation in which the school now finds itself."

He added: "The fact of the matter is we face multiple but not unrelated challenges around issues of providing a broad and balanced education, finance, pupil numbers and staffing.  The leadership, along with the county council, has worked tirelessly to transform prospects for the school.  At the heart of all our decision making has been the pupils' wellbeing and securing good attitudes to learning. But sadly we have concluded that realistically there is little prospect for Ings community primary to become sustainable and that we should ask the county council to consider consulting on closure of the school."

Ings community primary, which has capacity for 84 children, currently only has 42 on roll and 5 children in nursery.  This is forecast to reduce further to 34 by 2020, though the school believes numbers could fall into their 20s. The school is also forecasting cumulative year-end deficits of £117k in 2018/19 and £249k in 2019/20.

In July 2013 the school was judged inadequate by Ofsted and when inspected again in 2014 and 2016 was judged as requires improvement. Despite the best efforts of staff and governors it therefore faces the possibility of special measures unless there is significant improvement in the next 18 months. 

A number of teaching staff have already left the school and others are exploring other opportunities, so the school is currently heavily reliant on supply staff.

In these circumstances Ings community primary would not be attractive to another school under a federation arrangement.

"We have been asked to take the request for closure forward as a matter of urgency by governors," said Pete Dwyer, North Yorkshire's Corporate Director for the Children and Young People's Service.  "We will of course do everything possible to support children, parents and staff in this difficult situation. 

"Nevertheless, we are very aware of the present and future need for primary places in Skipton and so any consultation would have to consider this wider matter of anticipated future growth.

"For this reason we have had initial discussions with the Regional School Commissioner about the likely opening of an academy on the site at some point in the future.  This would ensure that the Ings site continues to provide primary school places for children in Skipton.

"Our overriding ambition is that all children should have access to the best possible provision in teaching and learning and attend good schools or better."

This story was published 6 June 2017